Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to take an ordinary, imperfect couple, counsel them with many words of wisdom and thereby virtually guarantee a perfect, lifelong marriage! If this is your expectation for this process, your mission will self-destruct in five seconds!
No marriage is perfect, as we all know. However, it is precisely because we believe the Scriptures teach that marriage is an institution established by God, and is a life-time commitment, that we require certain things from each couple before granting them approval to be married at the church or to use our facilities. One such requirement is to go through counseling. Your mission is not to produce a perfectly married couple, but rather to help a couple establish a biblical understanding and foundation for their marriage. This is not to be taken lightly and thus the encouragement for you, as the counselor, to be in the Word on a regular basis!
You, your spouse, and the couple you are counseling will meet approximately one time each month for at least five meetings, starting about five months before the wedding date. This can vary according to needs and schedules. Men, you must take the lead in each meeting in terms of guiding the discussion. There will normally be assignments for the engaged couple to complete between meetings. It will be expected that the couple will come prepared for each meeting, except for the first meeting. During each meeting, discussion among all is preferable. You will want to be more focused on what the Lord is teaching them through their study than giving them good tips for their marriage. As you go through each meeting keep in mind the qualifications for marriage as outlined in the church’s counseling and wedding policies found in Section 6 of this guide. Maintain close contact with the wedding Officiant so that problems are surfaced and dealt with.
The meetings can be broken down into five basic parts; you will essentially cover one part in each meeting. You, and the couple you are counseling will be using McRae’s book, “Preparing for Your Marriage” as a reference for working through the scriptures and for bringing up topics to be discussed. The book is primarily a “workbook” format. Don’t assume though that during your meetings you need to follow a question and answer “workbook” format. The best utilization of McRae’s book is to complete each assignment and be very familiar with the scripture references used in each chapter. Make the study of the Scriptures the central part of each meeting. Use questions as a springboard to dive into the scriptures! If you are both the Counselor, and Wedding Officiant, plan to invite another Pre-Marriage Counselor to sit in on at least one counseling meeting to get their insight. The five meetings are listed below.
1. The criteria for marriage. (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 1, 2)
2. Christian Marriage I: Basics. (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 3-11)
3. Christian Marriage II: A Christian husband, A Christian wife.
(“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 12-17)
4. Before your marriage. (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 18-21)
5. Your wedding and after. (“Preparing For Your Marriage” Ch. 22-26)
Each meeting will last between one and two hours. At the end of each meeting, plan what chapters from “Preparing for Your Marriage” you will cover at the next meeting. It would be preferable to meet in a place where you will not be interrupted. The church has rooms that are available for this purpose. Simply call the church Office to make sure the room you want to use is available when you want it. It might be necessary to fill out a building use form. Plan to have at least one meeting in your home over lunch or dinner. A Sample Approach to Pre-Marriage Counseling in this guide provides an approach to covering the five basic parts. Additional Resources and Suggestions/Ideas from Counselors in this Guide offer additional information you might find helpful as you plan and conduct your meetings.